Forrest Gump Becomes a Chinese Film Director: Idealism, Formalism, and an In-between Audience

By Harry Kuoshu.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 30, 2014 $US5.00

This article offers a case study of global influences on Chinese filmmaking. It discusses Happy (2009) by director Ah Gump (Dear Gump), whose adopted name shows the impact of Forrest Gump in China. Based on a novella by Jia Pingwa, Happy depicts the hardships faced by rural migrants living in the metropolis of Xi’an. What Ah Gump achieves in adapting the story is to turn Jia’s realism into a West Side Story-type musical with humor and celebration. The film, illustrating the popularity of Forrest Gump in China, features an anti-intellectualism that can be seen in Wang Shuo’s hooliganism, the focus placed on the body by the so-called “pretty-women writers”, and the prevalence of egao (mischievous parody) in popular culture. The film resorts to diversified international elements to connect with the audience. Tracing Ah Gump’s attention to the time-controlled fluidity of the audience reception, this article uses a Deleuzian approach to explain the film’s idealism and formalism as well as their roles in rendering the audience in-between: between cultures of different nations, between subcultures in China, between a totalitarian political past and the change toward a civic society, between Forrest Gump and Ah Gump, and, most important, between the emergence of a hybrid subjectivity and diversified international artistic elements.

Keywords: Chinese Film, Forrest Gump, Audience

The Global Studies Journal, Volume 8, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 30, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 537.550KB)).

Dr. Harry Kuoshu

Herring Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Modern Languages & Literatures, Department of Asian Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, USA


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